Thoughts on Narcissism and Narcissistic Rage

  • Kohut H
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Fund of the Institute for Psychoanalysis of the long-term study of narcissism is gratefully acknowledged. Specifically, this essay sets forth the principal lines of thought to be pursued in a detailed investigation of certain aspects of narcissism which is intended to be a continuation of the already published work on the vicissitudes of the libidinal cathexis of the self (Kohut, 1971). The future work will deal with the following three topics: (1) the libidinal aspects of narcissism—retrospective and supplementary considerations; (2) narcissism and aggression; and (3) narcissism and group psychology. The present essay deals in a preliminary form with the first two of these three topics; the scope of the third topic is briefly outlined at the end. -360 -suicide. Kleist and his work are almost unknown outside the circle of the German language, but my fascination with his short essay—and with another one of his stories—has, as I can see in retrospect, a specific significance in my own intellectual development: it marks the first time that I felt drawn to the topic that has now absorbed my scientific interest for several years. Ever since I read Kleist's story during my school days I had puzzled about the mysterious impact which the plain account has on the reader. A male ballet dancer, we are told, asserts in a fictitious conversation with the author that, by comparison with human dancing, the dance of puppets is near-perfect. The puppet's center of gravity is its soul; the puppeteer needs only to think himself into this point as he is moving the puppet, and the movements of its limbs will attain a degree of perfection that cannot be reached by the human dancer. Since puppets are not bound down by gravity, and since their physical center and soul are one, they are never artificial or pretentious. The human dancer, by comparison, is self-conscious, pretentious, artificial. The author responds to the dancer by recalling how, some years ago, he had admired the grace with which his nude male companion had set his foot upon a stool. Mischievously he had asked him

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  • Heinz Kohut

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